Is America Falling
Like the Roman Empire?
In the whole of history, many nations have been unable to survive. The most significant of all is the long lasting and most powerful empire of its time, the Roman Empire. Is America walking the same path today?
Translated By Mohammad Tamizifar
August 30, 2008
Iran - Tabnak - Original Article (Farsi)
This article is based on David Walker's speech, the Comptroller General of the United States and head of the Government Accountability Office in the Federal Human Resources Committee.
Donya-ye-Eqtesad Newspaper notes: in the whole of history, many nations have been unable to survive. The most significant of all is the long lasting and most powerful empire of its time, the Roman Empire. Is America walking the same path today? If the U.S. government can not choose a long-term strategy suitable for the 21’st century, it will probably face the same fate.
America has faced many continuing issues during the beginning of the 21st century a few of which are: budget shortage, health care, energy, education, environment, Iraq, old infrastructure and immigration. These issues are complicated and have significant importance.
Many of the youth probably don’t remember anything from the days of Cold War and the Iron Curtain. Their world is defined by the more recent issues like the invention of microprocessors, DNA and the spread of HIV, but the most important issue Americans have been facing is maintaining a useful government for future generations.
Unfortunately, the U.S. government has not had a good record in adapting to new circumstances as most parts of the federal government are too bureaucratic, shallow and dependent on old systems. Due to the fact that a useful and powerful government is important, there is a strong need to shake the government's organizational structure and change its lagging strategy.
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita showed this reality painfully. The damage of these hurricanes to the Gulf of Mexico tested the government at all levels. Though some organizations like the Coast Guard perfectly handled their duty, other organizations like the Federal Emergency Management Agency responded poorly. The public's trust in the government in providing basic needs has dropped significantly.
If a government is not able to respond to natural disasters, it is natural to worry about other public services! Due to the fact that an imbalance in the annual budget is growing, it is necessary to reform the government in order to adapt it to modern needs.
Simply put, America is moving towards an explosion of debt! And this debt is threatening the future of the country, considering that the generation with the highest growth rate is getting close to retirement, the health care costs will rise, the interest rates will decline and there will be a higher dependence on high-risk, foreign, financial lenders.
The long term prospects for this institute is frightening. If we continue down this path, the politicians will have to raise taxes and cut public services like student loans, interstate highways, national parks or even armed forces.
The financial troubles of the American nation will reduce their flexibility in order to deal with new challenges. For example, American society is getting old, tens of millions of the high growth-rate generation are soon to b retired!
Most of this retirees will have a longer life than their fathers and grandfathers. This means that in the next decades there will be less full time employees to contribute to economic growth or to maintain the current pension system. The United States, like other industrial nations, will have less full time employees to pay taxes and help the federal social insurance system and at the same time there will be more and more retirees needing pensions and medical care.
The other problem is that American companies are cutting their retirement benefits. Americans will have to make better financial planning choices, make smarter investments, make more savings and resist urges to spend money before retirement.
Other than the financial balance, America is facing other challenges. Globalization is top of the list. The markets, technologies and communications between continents and across oceans is become instantaneous. This reality became visible with the recent drop in the financial markets across the globe.
Society is moving from the industrial age to the knowledge age, where knowledge and expertise are the two keys to success. Unfortunately, the America that gave Bejamin Franklin, Thomas Edison and Bill Gates to the world now lags behind most developed countries in high school math and science grades.
The quality of life in America has never been better. Now, life expectancy Is higher, education is better and most people own their homes. But, at the same time, there are life quality issues like low quality public schools, locked roads, lack of a comprehensive health care plans and the stress of taking care for our old parents.
The economic growth that happened in America requires more demand for infrastructural development. Billions of dollars are needed for everything from highways and airports to sanitation systems. The Minneapolis bridge collapse was a punctual alert. These requirements are butting heads with other national priorities and to prepare America for this challenge, there should be a financial plan focused on the future.
In the government, the Senate and in both parties, America needs leaders who understand these realties, say the truth, and make difficult choices and contribute to the development of the country, America also need leaders from the states, city councils, universities, charities, research institutes, army and media. There’s been little request for unity, for change and for sacrifice until now.
America is a powerful nation, probably the most powerful in history, and if it wants to keep its power it has to accept the truth and make the necessary changes.
There’s an amazing resemblance between America’s current situation and the ancient Roman Empire. The Roman Empire fell due to various reasons--three of them are worth mentioning: the decline of morality, culture and politics from within; the overly self-confident army and various wars to extend borders; and the financial irresponsibility of the central government. Don't these sound familiar??
It’s now the time to learn from history to make steps and make sure that America will emerge from these tasks a winner.
CLICK HERE FOR